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Assam CM issues strict guidelines following the outbreak of African swine fever


GUWAHATI: In view of African swine fever infection reported in different parts of the state, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the administration of all the five districts to ensure that intermingling of domestic and wild pigs does not take place.

Sonowal directed the district administration that in view of African swine fever movement of domestic pigs are restricted so as to stop further infection. He also directed to hold awareness meetings in the villages adjoining the Kaziranga National park (KNP).

Sonowal directed the district administration and forest department officials of Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Karbi Anglong to put up coordinated efforts to ensure protection of wildlife at Kaziranga National Park from poaching and provide the animals adequate relief during flood. He directed this while reviewing preparation of these districts on wildlife protection during the forthcoming monsoon season.

The Chief Minister said that Kaziranga National Park has global importance and any untoward incident that takes place in the park draws attention of the people worldwide. Due to united efforts of the administration and forest officials of the five districts adjoining the park, rhino poaching could be considerably reduced in last four years, the Chief Minister observed. He also directed the civil and police administration as well as the forest department to continue their efforts unabated.

The Chief Minister taking strong note of the rhino poaching incident that took place few days back directed the police and forest department to take expeditious measures to nab the poachers.

Stating that the state government’s strong measures have led to considerable drop in the number of poaching at Kaziranga National Park, the Chief Minister said that the fast track courts set up by Gauhati High Court as per state government’s request have so far convicted several poachers and handed them exemplary punishment.

He observed that steps of this kind have instilled fear in the mind of poachers and left positive impact on wildlife protection. Moreover, to strengthen anti poaching drive at the park, the Chief Minister directed the district administration and the forest department to engage village headmen, tea garden sardars and people having strong grass root connection living in the adjoining areas in the wildlife protection endeavours.

Underlining the need for adequate health care facilities for the wildlife at Kaziranga National Park and to boost up services of the veterinary department, the Chief Minister directed the forest department to develop a skilled force with proper training to render necessary health service to the animals in the park. The Chief Minister also stressed on the need to make the wildlife protection measures of the forest department more visible and directed the department to fill up all vacancies to give more teeth to its wildlife protection activities. Moreover, the Chief Minister directed the forest department to carry out a survey to assess the impact of the highlands developed in the park on the wildlife and their use by the animals during flood. He also asked the park authorities to keep itself prepared with adequate food stock so that same could be provided to the animals during flood.

The director of Kaziranga National Park P. Shivakumar informed the Chief Minister that while three rhinos were killed by poachers last year, one such incident has been reported this year so far. He informed that the forest department has geared up to deal with the forthcoming monsoon season and kept ready 300 boats, 18 speed boats and floating camps to rescue animals and provide relief during flood. He further informed that a proposal has been submitted to Central Government for construction of additional highlands at the park and the Central Government has looked into the proposal positively.

Meanwhile following a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to Assam’s director general of police, the state police headquarters issued an order to the Guwahati city commissioner of police and all district superintendents of police, directing them to ensure that action is taken against people abandoning animal companions over unwarranted COVID-19 fears and against cruel pet shop owners who let animals suffer in locked shops, as was also advised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in its circulars dated 11, 23, and 24 March.

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